We are already seeing increased tension, polarisation as poll approaches
The United States has expressed concerns about intimidation and partisanship by security forces as Nigeria’s general election draws near.
A statement obtained by THISDAY in Abuja, yesterday, said the Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs at the U.S. Department of States, Tibor P. Nagy, Jr., stated this, among others, while testifying on Thursday before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Sub-committee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organisations.
According to the statement, Nagy, Jr., whose testimony before the committee was titled, “Nigeria at a Crossroads: The Upcoming Elections,” noted that heightened insecurity, terrorist attacks on elections institutions, or violence towards voters, observers, or electoral officials; and inability of large numbers of internally displaced persons or persons with disabilities to vote were also sources of concern to the U.S.
Additionally, it listed voter suppression, the use of armed gangs for voter intimidation, and other drivers of electoral violence, including a lack of official condemnation of hate speech and disinformation; and wide-spread vote buying that challenges the integrity of the electoral process as its other concerns for the elections.
The U.S, which vowed to maintain a neutral stance in the elections, however, said it would observe the entire preparations to identify potential attacks that could undermine the legitimacy of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the electoral processes.
Nagy Jr., said the U.S was not anticipating large-scale nation-wide conflict, but rather localised violence during the elections, adding that Borno and Rivers were top hotspots for such electoral violence.
“The Department of State agrees with the view that Nigeria’s February 2019 national elections are a critical test. The conduct of the elections could have significant consequences for the democratic trajectory of Nigeria, West Africa, and the entire continent.
“The conduct of the 2015 Nigerian elections, although by no

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